Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy

Infrastructure: Nigeria waives RoW payments on highways for investors

*Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, FMCDE Minister, urges investors to take advantage of the window till 2022

*The RevvProgramme will mitigate effects of COVID-19 on SMEs to enhance digital economy drive, says MTN Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a strategic move to attract more investments in the critical infrastructure space in the country’s economy, the Federal Government of Nigeria has waived payment for Right of Way (RoW) on its highways across as part of palliatives for COVID-19.

Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, stated this at a virtual meeting convened by MTN to unveil its TheRevvProgramme.

The programme, according to MTN Nigeria, seeks to address major macro level issues specifically in the areas of re-igniting the economy and driving digital inclusion for SMEs.

Adopting a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives, The RevvProgramme seeks to help SMEs relearn, rethink and retool their businesses for growth in the emerging digital economy.

ConsumerConnect learnt that at the meeting targeted at developing small businesses, Dr. Pantami stated that a memo to that effect has been forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval.

Dr. Pantami, who disclosed that Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Honourable Minister for Works and Housing, forwarded the memo to the Presidency, said that other critical agencies of government, such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and National Inland Waterways (NIWA) are also parties to the fresh deal on RoW.

He, therefore, urged investors to take advantage of the window he said has been opened to lapse by 2022.

Government Waives RoW Fees on Highways for Fibre Optic Cables, Other Critical Infrastructure  Photo: Techeconomy.Ng

The minister said Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) remained the engine room of the economy, contributing about 48 percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

According to the World Bank, 90 percent of businesses fall under SMEs providing 50 percent jobs, and the Minister opined that there are 41.1million businesses in the country while 96 percent of the enterprises are SMEs.

While noting that the development regulations to drive the digital economy of the country is ready, Pantami said that other agencies of government, such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), are expected to come up with ‘subsidiary regulations’ to drive the digital dream.

He also emphasised the need to toe the line of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) model of Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) development.

MTN Nigeria said The RevvProgramme would mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on SMEs in line with the digital economy drive of the government as espoused in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).

Working with relevant stakeholders, subject-matter experts and the company’s executives the programme will support over 10,000 SMEs beginning with masterclasses for digital literacy, business management and execution abilities necessary to accelerate the growth of their businesses.

The masterclasses which will be delivered by MTN executives along with industry experts will focus on various core areas of business management, as part of a broader strategy to uplift small businesses.

This will be followed by the selection ofThe Y’ello 200 (Two hundred top-performing SMEs at the sessions) that will enjoy exclusive access to a broad range of technology and productivity tools and services absolutely free, for a period of six months.

They will also receive productivity support that will enhance their business performance, in addition to access to MTN’s media assets for product marketing, which will open up new market opportunities for business growth and expansion.

The programme also seeks to provide medium-term guidance for small business owners through a structured business advisory arrangement from industry experts.

Over the past five years, small businesses in Nigeria have contributed an estimated 48% to the national GDP. In addition, SMEs account for about 96% of the total number of businesses in the country and employ 84% of the local workforce in Nigeria according to 2017 data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

For the SME sector, a lot has changed since the lockdown as necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic; resulting in an unprecedented economic tailspin, which has further affected both small businesses and large organisations, drastically decreased consumer spending, and affected jobs and people’s livelihood.

The RevvProgramme is expected to help small businesses re-start economic activities and position them for accelerated growth.

Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment stated that there is a nexus between his Ministry’s efforts in developing the MSME space and MTN’s The RevvProgramme, which aim to “focus mainly on MSMEs and address the foundational digital needs as well as other skills such businesses need to develop; these include access to information, infrastructure, funding and new markets.”

Ferdi Moolman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MTN Nigeria, while thanking Dr. Pantami and Otunba Adebayo, for their support, stated that the initiative seeks to provide support to SMEs as they continue to lead Nigeria’s growth.

Moolman said: “We believe that at this time when many businesses are at their most vulnerable.

“And with a rapidly changing business environment, it is important that alongside the Federal Government, other businesses strongly position themselves to support SMEs as a foundation to the growth of a stronger economy going into 2021 and beyond.

“MTN has always spearheaded programmes to uplift small and medium businesses in Nigeria. The RevvProgramme is our way of standing with SMEs in their journey to rise through these challenging times.

“We are positive this will assist them with the digital skill sets necessary to continue to thrive.”

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